So the question posed has been why? Why did we need to change our system over to Google? This goes well beyond email (Gmail), which is the only App we have currently implemented across the school, and I would like to think the move sets us up to participate more collaboratively and more effectively together.
I guess the big picture view for me is of the changing nature of knowledge. Traditionally we often held on tightly to any knowledge we had, keeping it to ourselves and maybe sharing it with others on occasion. When we did share, others filed the photocopy away, or watched the movie but gave no feedback.
The notion that knowledge belongs to someone is all a bit bizarre really and thankfully evidence and trends show that knowledge assumes a greater force when it is shared, discussed and built on. Wikipedia of course is the classic modern example. I am certainly not alone in thinking this and perhaps the best known explanation I know of can be found in this clip by Charles Leadbetter.
Other background thinking and recognition of other trends comes in the way of the Horizon Reports, released each year in a variety of formats. The reports are:
an ongoing research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within education around the globe. practical models as well as access to more detailed information.
The recently released 2009 Horizon Report K-12 describes Collaborative Environments:
Collaborative environments are virtual workplaces where students and teachers can communicate, share information, and work together. A growing emphasis on collaboration in education â€” and an increasing recognition that collaboration is the norm in many modern workplaces â€” has led more teachers to seek tools to facilitate group interaction and teamwork in their classes. Online spaces designed to support groups of students working together take many forms…
The report suggests collaborative environments have a time-to-adoption horizon of one year or less. If we also look at the 2008 and 2009 Horizon Reports including the 2008 Australia and NZ Edition Horizons Report, they also describe cloud computing, collaboration webs, collective intelligence which all describes the ability to create, share and collaborate online.
So really the answers as to why we have changed is really me standing back and looking at the big picture of what not only the school administrative systems might look like in the next couple of years, but more importantly one of the ways the students will be actively learning.
While I can see quite clearly how this will look and develop, I have the advantage of having used this environment for the past few years, Gmail since its conception in 2004. I must always keep this in the back of my mind when planning and strategically implementing the Apps with the staff. Already staff are seeing the potential benefits and I can’t wait for the momentum to keep building.